Weather Forecast


16 ND lawyers vie for 3 new judgeships

BISMARCK -- Applications from 16 North Dakota lawyers have been filed with a committee tasked to provide Gov. Jack Dalrymple with a list of vetted candidates by the end of June for three newly created district court judgeships.

Bill Neumann, secretary of the Judicial Nominating Committee, said eight applicants are vying for two new judgeships in the Northwest Judicial District, set to be chambered in Williston, and nine applicants are vying for the new judgeship in the East Central District in Fargo. One of the 16 lawyers is applying in both districts.

Thursday was the last day to apply, but Neumann said the committee will still accept applications.

The nominating committee is composed of six members appointed for three-year terms, with the governor, chief justice of the state Supreme Court and president of the North Dakota State Bar Association each choosing two.

Three temporary members will be assigned to each of the two judicial districts to conduct research and contact the applicants' references.

The information will then be provided to the nominating committee, which will consider the information and proceed to conduct interviews with the applicants.

Neumann said interviews are tentatively scheduled June 24-28, with the early part of the week in Williston and latter part in Fargo.

While he's a nonvoting member, Neumann has served as secretary of the committee since he became director of the North Dakota State Bar Association in 2005.

He said the only requirement is an applicant must be a licensed attorney in the state, but "of course the committee is looking for a little more than that.

"They're looking for somebody with some experience, clean disciplinary record, ability to listen patiently, which some would say that's just as important as being able to understand the law," he said.

By law, the committee has 60 days after the governor asks the committee to begin the nominating process to provide a list of nominees. The deadline will be the end of June.

When the Legislature created the three judgeships, it required them to be filled 30 days after the law became effective July 1. So the three judges must be chosen by the governor no later than July 31.

The governor can name someone off list, reject the list and ask for a new one, or declare a special election for the judgeship.

Applicants for the new judgeships

Northwest Judicial District in Williston

Robin Schmitt, Watford City

Eric Baumann, Minot

Colleen Marie Baird, Williston

Paul Jacobson, Bismarck

Benjamen Johnson, Tioga

Robert Wade Martin, Minot

Jacob Marburger, Williston

Cherie Clark, Fargo

East Central Judicial District in Fargo

Thomas Olson, Fargo

Darcie Einarson, Grafton

Susan Bailey, West Fargo

Shanon Gregor, Fargo

Scott O. Diamond, Fargo

Constance Cleveland, Fargo

Cherie Clark, Fargo

Robert Stroup III, Fargo

Jenny Samarzja, Moorhead, Minn.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.